SEAFOOD. SIMPLE. SUBLIME.
Road-tripping on the east coast of Tasmania.
It's sunny side up on the east coast, where beaches shine, wildlife abounds and thoughts of water turn quickly to wine.
Great Eastern Drive
A drive along Tasmania’s east coast takes in laidback hinterland villages and a string of holiday towns along stretches of uncrowded beaches, past seafood shacks and wineries with character. The Great Eastern Drive is one of the nation’s finest road trips, flanked by islands, beaches, mountains and gorges protected as national parks, which are threaded with walking tracks and inhabited by fascinating wildlife.
East Coast Wine Trail
Plot a route past almost a dozen vineyards and cellar doors, filling the hamper with produce sourced along the way. The main cluster of wineries is around the little town of Cranbrook, where Spring Vale Vineyard has its cellar door in a convict-built stable, and rustic Gala Estate Vineyard occupies a property owned by the same family since 1821, making it the state's second-oldest family business. Combine a tasting with a view of Freycinet Peninsula at Devil's Corner, with its distinctive timber tower and wood-fired pizza and seafood.
"Maria Island is really the best place in the world to see wombats in their wild state." Ian Johnstone, Maria Island Walk
A geological wonderland teeming with wildlife, the car-free national park blends nature with human history. Leave your car in Triabunna and take the 30-minute ferry ride to the island, then wander through Darlington, a convict penitentiary that pre-dates Port Arthur, and continue walking to the extraordinary Painted Cliffs and Fossil Cliffs that bookend the settlement. For a grander perspective, make the climb to Bishop and Clerk, dolerite peaks with view along much of Tasmania's east coast, or take it easy and simply commune with the wombats around the lawns of Darlington. Hire a bike to venture further afield, or take a ride with Tasmanian eBike Adventures.
New trails are sprouting like shoots around St Helens. The newest offerings in the network of St Helens Mountain Bike Trails include Dreaming Pools, a 27-kilometre wilderness trail through St Helens' backcountry with stunning views - the Dreaming Pools are natural rock pools, handy for a cooling dip midway along the ride. The Garnup climbing trail to the top of Loila Tier has also opened, while few mountain bikers can resist the siren call of the 42-kilometre Bay of Fires Trail, descending from the mountains through rainforest to the white sands of Swimcart Beach.
Apsley Waterhole and Gorge
Head into Douglas-Apsley National Park and take the short stroll to cooling Apsley Waterhole. From here, one of Tasmania's 60 Great Short Walks loops over a ridge and into Apsley Gorge for an exciting rock-hop back to the waterhole (in dry conditions only). Swims aplenty.
Spot the penguins
Evening visitors are rarely as cute as Bicheno's little penguins, which march across the beach and into town at dusk. View the birds with Bicheno Penguin Tours, which heads to the shores each night. "Guests are given the opportunity to observe penguins in their natural habitat without interference or intrusion," says owner Nic Wardlaw. "The penguins are so relaxed with our presence they've often walked over our feet."
Walk the peninsula
Freycinet's star attraction is, of course, Wineglass Bay, but it's just part of the story on the guided Freycinet Walking Tour with Experiential Tasmania. The five-and-a-half hour walk departs Freycinet Lodge and includes a gourmet picnic. The highlights are here - Wineglass Bay lookout and the famous beach itself - but it's across the peninsula, on the equally impressive Hazards Beach, that you truly feel Freycinet's space and calm.
Eat and drink
They call it Great Oyster Bay for a reason, and the oysters come fresh from the baskets to the cafe deck at Freycinet Marine Farm, just outside Coles Bay. Don waders for a tour of the farm with Oyster Bay Tours, which includes tastings straight from the water.
And more seafood
There’s plenty of freshly caught seafood served along this coastline. Tuck into a lobster roll at Lobster Shack, overlooking the fishing fleet at the Gulch in Bicheno, or fine fish and chips at nearby Tasmanian Coastal Seafoods. And it's the shortest of journeys from boat to belly at the Fish Van, parked just a few metres from Triabunna's fishing fleet.
"There are 22 producers in the east coast wine region, and less than half have a cellar door, but we have over 90 wines from all 22." Subi Mead, Farm Shed East Coast Wine Centre
Farm Shed East Coast Wine Centre
This farm shed showcases wines from every vineyard on the east coast, including those without cellar doors. Tastings are animated with stories of the vineyards and makers, with a wine bar also pouring by the glass. "There are 22 producers in the east coast wine region, and less than half have a cellar door, but we have over 90 wines from all 22," says Farm Shed East Coast Wine Centre co-owner Subi Mead.
In the idyllic Pyengana Valley, watch farmhouse cheeses being handcrafted at Pyengana Dairy, enjoy a tasting, and settle into the farm-gate cafe with a platter starring the dairy's award-winning cloth-bound cheddar. Dine on the deck and watch the cows come home to the milking shed.
Kate's Berry Farm
An old favourite has a new look, with a full renovation and a new menu at Kate's Berry Farm at Swansea. The ice-creams and scones are still here, and the pies and pastries are now made on site. "We're passionate, innovative and creative," says owner Kate Bradley. "People will walk into a new experience. I wanted everything to look fresh."
This luxe tower for two is like no place you've ever seen. Perched in romantic solitude atop the Blue Tier, The Keep has 360-degree views across the forest canopy and along the entire north-east coast. Nearby are three private walking trails and a show-stopping stone bath hidden among the granite boulders.
Sitting inside Freycinet National Park, the long-established Freycinet Lodge has a makeover that's added a range of new stays. Mountain Terrace rooms have wall-length windows facing the Hazards, while the Bay View Coastal Pavilions sport outdoor tubs and decks, and dreamy views.
Spring Bay Mill
Shack life has always been the good life in Tasmania, and that’s the inspiration for new waterfront shacks at Spring Bay Mill. Once the world's largest woodchip mill, the site near Triabunna has been transformed by a bunch of provocateurs, and the eco shacks come with outdoor tubs and views to Maria Island. There are also glamping tents, and the rusted remains of the mill have been transformed into unique event spaces.
Avalon Coastal Retreat
Positioned for maximum privacy and wraparound views of Great Oyster Bay, sleek Avalon Coastal Retreat sleeps six in style, with two ocean-view decks, contemporary art, open fireplace and direct access to a secluded beach.
Imagine the scene: a retreat on a private peninsula surrounded by Great Oyster Bay and five kilometres of secluded coastline. Thalia Haven’s four stone cottages are set around courtyards bordered by olive trees, and while the ocean-view outdoor tub is hard to leave, that private beach beckons.
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